About Diane

A fan of life, an observer. I have an opinion on everything.

When the Boot is on the Other Foot

For the record I am not a Hinkle fan, her play is good, but hasn’t ignited any passion in me. I am also not a fan of the religious arguments against homosexuality. I am ALSO not a fan of people who are gay or are gay allies using Hinkle’s bowing out of the upcoming friendlies as fodder for their hate.

-First off, we know nothing of her personal reasons for not participating and all speculation is just that. If no one will go on record, credible sources nor Hinkle herself, then it’s all just speculation.

-Secondly, the hate coming from gays and allies is just plain ugly and wrong and would be vilified by same if directed at them. It is not OK to do it to us and it’s not OK to do it to them.

-Third and last, actions and beliefs do come with consequences, IF Hinkle is acting on her beliefs then not playing for the NT during these friendlies is the consequence. I don’t think anyone would agree it’s a minor consequence given what players endure to get a call-up. The consequence should not be, should never be, the hate I have seen directed at her. It makes me very sad and a bit angry that the very people who preach “Love is Love” stoop to such disgusting lows to attack someone who doesn’t preach hate, she does after all play with gay players, but who is sticking to her beliefs and not promoting something she doesn’t believe in. However much I might disagree with her beliefs, and trust me I do, I also have to respect her for following them to this extent.

If you have been one of the people on social media making memes, saying she doesn’t deserve another call-up, or just generally being ugly about this, please reconsider your actions. If directed at the gay community much of them would be considered bullying and rightly so. Don’t be THAT person.

You can @ me if you like, but as always, please be civil.

A L💙VE LETTER

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My Dearest FC Kansas City,

We met over five years ago. Me, a long time enthusiast looking for a team to love and you, a new team full of heart and enticing promise. It wasn’t love at first sight, not for me anyway. You were young, inexperienced and distant. All qualities that should have sent up red cards, but there was something about your willingness to reach out that drew me in. I played along willing to see where this could go, encouraged by your commitment to grow and keep trying to be better than yesterday. Our relationship became one of comfort and stability, mutual respect and fondness. Not the stuff of steamy romance novels but more like nights spent on the couch watching rom-coms.

I was happy, but something was missing. Even though you brought me the stars it just wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted you to recognize our relationship for what it was. To be open and honest about who I was to you. For four years I waited..and waited..and waited..and waited. I dropped hints, then I dropped some more. I went public with my disappointment all the while hoping that my choice to stay committed to you was the right one. Then it happened.

You had a major change in attitude, you decided I was as important to you as you were to me. You finally saw me for who I truly am.  I would like to think you’ve loved me all along, but I can’t go that far. But you love me now. Openly. Freely. And that is the most important. Sometimes the journey is a long one, but the destination is all worth it.

So my dear FCKC – owners, staff, coaches, players, volunteers – I love you. Without reservation. Without equivocation. Entirely. To be recognized as who I am is all I’ve hoped for over this long courtship. You have my heart.

 

Openly yours,

Diane

 

 

And The Winner Is…

Another day, another WoSo award. Today’s reveal was the CONCACAF Awards 2016. Of course some (most) of the awards were just a popularity vote. That’s not the fault of the voters, that’s the fault of the people running the vote. This is not just confined to CONCACAF, the biggest award in women’s football is given by FIFA, and it’s no mistake it’s also the biggest popularity award.

This isn’t a ‘sour grapes’ article because my choices didn’t win, this is an ‘I’m pissed’ article because the women’s game, the players, and the fans deserve better.

I won’t go into all the minute details about how players are chosen to be in a particular list for each award, they are all basically the same – a technical committee ( I use the term very loosely) chooses a long list of who they think (OK, a long list of names they pull out of a hat) had an OK year in whatever category the list is for – then it’s narrowed down in a few different ways to a shortlist of 3 or 5 or 27 (maybe not 27, but why not, the outcome will be the same) – then the “real” voting gets underway. In some permutation that adds up to 100%, the vote is given to team coaches and/or captains, the media, and the fans. Doesn’t sound too bad so far, right? Wrong. This is where it really goes off the track. In the case of CONCACAF while the media and coaches/captains get one vote apiece, the fans get unlimited (may be limited by the amount of hours in a day and the stamina of your fingers) votes. Instant recipe for a popularity vote.  In the case of FIFA the process goes off the rails almost immediately, never mind the voting process. FIFA’s “technical committee” seldom gets the right players on the long list and therefor the right players seldom make it onto the shortlist. From there you go to the voting where many (if not most) of the voters only really know about a few of the more prominent names on the list . This is not confined to fans, this also includes the media and the coaches/captains. This brings us to the real reasons WoSo awards don’t reflect and reward the outstanding players in the game – the lack of exposure for much of the WoSo world game and the lack of respect.

It doesn’t matter if it’s one small confederation or all the confederations – if voters aren’t exposed to the players nominated how can they ever choose the ones truly deserving to be singled out with an award? You might argue that it’s hard to get WoSo on TV and you wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s not hard to get highlight reels on individual players. In today’s game most teams compile some type of video. Some leagues require it, some just do it for their own purposes, some players keep their own. We are in a digital age where anyone with a computer/phone to cast a vote could conceivably view a video. I don’t even entertain the production quality argument, how many of us have sat through a grainy phone video to see a favorite player or play? And if you’re shaking your head from side-to-side, get down – you could fall and hurt yourself from that high up. By exposing the technical committee, the media, the coaches/captain, and yes, the fans to all the players nominated at their level of voting would go a long way to solving the exposure problem. Until all WoSo is accessible, like 99% of BroSo is now, the award givers will have to work just a little bit harder here. Which brings us to lack of respect.

You might say that confederations and FIFA are working on the respect aspect, but are they working as hard as they could? Let me answer that for you, No. It would take very little work to treat the award process with the respect it deserves. In the case of CONCACAF all it would have taken was one vote per fan, at least FIFA got that part right. CONCACAF presented video clips of each nominee, which is what I would like to see, but then they opened the voting to allow fans to vote as many times as they possibly could for a favorite player. Even though the total fan vote only carried a third of the total voting, fans could still have swayed the results by voting non-stop for a fave over a possibly more deserving player based on merit not popularity. FIFA, by contrast, did only allow for one vote per fan, but was very lacking in the education of their electorate. You only need to look at who voted for whom to see that in many instances (as it has been since inception) name recognition was how most coaches/captains voted. It’s hard for all the member nations to keep tabs on all the other member nation teams and stand-out players. This is where FIFA needs to step up its game and show the nominees (and the voting nations) the respect they deserve. Awards at the confederation level and certainly at the FIFA level should truly reflect the quality and talent WoSo has to offer. They do not and it lies squarely at the feet of those organizations to do better.

I’m seldom at a loss on how to “fix” things, so here goes.

  1. Vet the “technical committees” to make sure they are the most knowledgeable about the women’s game within the given framework.
  2. Provide all electors with ample footage of the selected shortlist players so that they can cast an informed vote.
  3. Establish well-articulated, merit-based criteria for each award.
  4. Promote the vote all year, giving it gravitas as a true award and not a popularity or name recognition contest.
  5. Emphasize the importance of recognizing the most qualified to meet the award criteria.
  6. Limit voting to one vote per fan.

BroSo seldom has these issues with awards and in part it’s due to the wide exposure players get. WoSo isn’t there yet so we have to make sure that confederations and FIFA do what’s needed to make these awards meaningful and respected. The last thing we want to do is undermine the women’s game and the accomplishments of its greatest players by giving out awards that even the recipients know are often misguided.

If what fans want is a popularity contest give them one, just don’t disrespect the players by representing it as reflecting on their ability on the pitch in a given year.

If you have any ideas on how to make awards better, let me hear them in the comments.

 

 

An Orphan and an ID Clinic

As soccer fans, players, coaches, we ARE a community. Step up, someone needs our help.

Life as a Female Soccer Player

I ran an ID Clinic this past weekend for elite level, female high school soccer players in Toronto, Canada.

With an overflow of parents in attendance there supporting their kids and learning what they needed to do to help them succeed, there was one player, in grade 12, who was different. She was recently orphaned with her Mom’s passing.

Her Dad died when she was 1, and her mom died a few weeks ago.

Despite all of this turmoil, this player played for a good friend of mine and was one of the top players on one of the top youth teams in Canada last year as a grade 11 student. While other kids have parents doing everything for them, this kid worked many hours at a job to be able to survive financially as she was getting little help from her family, all the while being a top level soccer player…

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To my LGBTQ friends, colleagues and readers …

Thanks, Beau. In the current political climate this means a lot. As a proud lesbian, it is a scary time. My hope is there are more people like you out there and thanks again for using your voice.

Duresport.com

I’m not going to lie. I grew up with a backwards attitude. Yeah, Athens is a college town, but it’s still in Georgia. At both my rough-and-tumble public school and my vaguely Christian-ish (and generally wonderful) private school, homophobia reigned. “Gay” meant “weak.”

It took me a few years to realize that I knew gay people. Those guys we knew in Savannah who lived together with their bulldogs? Yeah. My relative who only married a woman as a business deal of sorts? Yeah.

In college, I met plenty of people who were out. And my attitude changed.

College will do that to you if you go to the right place. My perceptions on Muslims changed. I had known a couple of Jewish neighbors at home, but now I was seeing observances of all the holidays and learning much more about the religion and the culture. And I met gay people…

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Xenophobic?

I’ve been away from this blog for some time, but today I’m forced to write by my utter disgust at the way many people are characterizing Abby Wambach’s questioning of “foreign” players on the USMNT as xenophobic.

If you’re reading this you’re probably aware of her statements concerning dual national players chosen by Klinsmann to play for the USA. Up until recently most players chosen to put on the US jersey have been homegrown, meaning born and raised in the US and within the US development system. Klinsmann has chosen to go outside that system looking for players and as a result has called in many dual national players. In varying degrees these players were born/raised/played for a portion of their lives outside the United States and for other development systems.

Wambach has questioned their motivation and commitment to play for the US. If you look at this from the perspective of someone born and raised in the US, advanced through the US system, and who has worn the US jersey for almost all of her adult life, I think it’s easy to see where her questions come from. But does it qualify as xenophobic? Does Wambach have a fear of these players? I would unequivocally say no. There is absolutely no basis for her to be fearful, nor has she expressed any such fear. Does Wambach hold them in contempt? Again an unequivocal no. She may harbor dislike for Klinsmann and his coaching choices, but she has never expressed dislike for the players involved.

Xenophobia is a serous charge to throw at someone and whether you agree with her word choices in asking the question or not, simply asking someone to discuss their motivation and commitment to play for and represent the USA  does not make them xenophobic.

And today I read something that really is my main motivation to blog. As part of an article on Wambach’s supposed xenophobia it was said that while the writer had no indication that any of Wambach’s comments were racial in nature it couldn’t be dismissed that several of the players in question were of color. And of course it was all contextualized with references to the current election. To conflate Wambach’s comments about dual nationals with this election and the pure hatred that is being put forth by a candidate is irresponsible and just plain inflammatory.

You don’t have to be a fan of Wambach to see that this is just wrong.

If you have a different perspective, let me know in the comments. Respectful discussion is always welcome.

Will I Sit or Will I Stand?

I’ve given a lot of thought to this subject. In fact I’ve been thinking about it since Megan Rapinoe first took a knee during the national anthem on September 4th. And let me tell you, the intersectionality of this is almost endless.

I tried to limit it though because lets face it, I’m one person and to delve into it all would take far more time than I have before events will force me to choose.

I started by deciding if I thought the cause was worthy and that was the easy part. I think the way our country (and that includes me) treats people of color is disgraceful. It’s institutional racism on steroids in many parts of the country and ingrained in almost everyone’s everyday life. In order for the U.S. to continue to be the kind of country I want it to be, this has to be addressed and the hard conversations have to be had. It’s my experience that people don’t like the hard conversations and usually wait until they absolutely have to have them to do it. Rapinoe and Kaepernick are basically not allowing people to ignore the issue by protesting in such a public way. So I’m in as far as that goes.

The next thing I had to decide was if I supported their mode of protest. And I have to say that was also easy for me. Their protest is peaceful and goes to the very heart of what I think the flag represents. I was raised in the era of saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day to start school. I come from a family with a proud military tradition, my grandfather, my father, and I all served in the Army. In the Army there are strict rules as to what your behavior is supposed to be when you’re in proximity of the flag or when you hear the national anthem. But even before I enlisted I was taught that you stand and put your hand over your heart when you say the pledge or hear the anthem. So those traditions* were easy to adjust to the military requirements. And after I left service I continue to stand for the anthem. When I was younger I stood because I was told to and that’s just what you did. As I got older I made a conscious decision to stand for the anthem, to show my respect for a country I served and has served me well. The flag and the anthem represent to me all the people who have served and toiled to make America the country I choose to live in. A country that above all values its freedom and the freedom of its citizens. My grandfather went to battle to preserve those freedoms, my father did too. I served in peacetime, but was prepared to serve in whatever capacity was required. My grandfather often talked of what it was like when the embattled, persecuted and interned were given their freedom. He said it was one of the things he was most proud of. He isn’t with us any longer, but I know he would approve of someone protesting in a peaceful manner to change the lives of our citizens for the better. He always revered the flag, not as a symbol to be bowed to, but as a promise to the people of what could be. He instilled that reverence in me and if someone doesn’t feel that the flag represents them I want to know why and how I can make them feel like it does.

As a gay American I can fully appreciate when Rapinoe said –

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,”

That’s a fact and I do what I can in my life to change that, including protesting against institutions that stand in the way of all my liberties being protected.

A few thoughts I had to process:

  • What’s the difference between kids that walk players out and kneel in front of them during playing of the anthem and a player taking a knee in the sideline. If they were told to stand and one of them didn’t want to, would the outrage be the same?
  • Do these people go around at sporting events and police people who don’t stand or remove their hats or cover their heart?
  • What actual  harm is this protest doing? Are people’s feelings so fragile that they can’t tolerate someone kneeling during a song.
  • Does the freedom of expression extend to stopping someone else from expressing themselves?
  • Who gets to decide which peaceful protests are OK?
  • How many of the people who think Rapinoe and Kaepernick are disrespectful to the flag own an article of clothing made to look like it’s made from a flag? Do they know that’s against the guidelines for how a flag is to be treated?
  • Do these people think the flag represents people of color in America the same way it represents white people? Do they think it means the same thing to them?
  • Do veterans or people who have lost someone in combat think they have more right to define what the flag means?

Like I said, I put a lot of thought into this and I’ve come to a conclusion. I support kneeling during the anthem. My support extends to Rapinoe when she’s wearing the red, white & blue. I’ve come to see exercising freedom of expression in a peaceful manner as a tribute to all those who have given their lives to preserve our freedoms and all those who continue to work hard every day to keep those values alive. I also see her protest while representing the U.S.A. as the ultimate expression to the rest of the world of just how much our freedom means to us. I want people to feel uncomfortable so that they are forced to engage in hard conversations to make our country even better.

As for me, I will stand. I will stand having been influenced by the protest to start, and stop avoiding, the hard conversations.

I encourage everyone to observe the tradition however they are moved to, be it sitting, standing, or kneeling along with Rapinoe and Kaepernick. I also encourage everyone to take note of the protest’s purpose. It would be a disservice to all our fellow citizens if we only exercise outrage at the treatment of a song or a piece of fabric and not actual people who are being mistreated.

What will you do? I welcome your views when presented in a civil manner.

*Playing the anthem at sporting events was started as a fluke and caught on because the country was at war, it wasn’t even the anthem when the tradition started. And it is a tradition,  like getting a hot dog at a ball game. There is no law that the anthem has to be played, in fact a few years after the tradition was started, one baseball team stopped because people had lost interest and didn’t feel as patriotic since the country wasn’t at war any longer and only restarted because the city wanted to promote a local military tourist attraction. I find many people who get exercised by the actions of Rapinoe and Kaepernick don’t even know that.